You’ve probably heard of Eureka Springs, the picture-perfect Victorian resort town tucked into the mountains of Northwest Arkansas. But Arkansas is full of charming towns, full of history, and main streets where locals and visitors alike can browse the shops and dine out at restaurants. From the mountains to the cities, explore the roads of the state to see these lovely places.
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Located 30 minutes north of Little Rock, Conway is home to the University of Central Arkansas. The town is surrounded by water, including the Arkansas River, Lake Conway, and Beaver Fork Lake. The outdoors are plentiful, including the Tucker Creek Walking Trail.
Learn about the area’s history at the Faulkner County Museum, set in the historic jail from 1896. The Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix College is free to visit and has rotating exhibits throughout the year. There are also frequent art walks.
When you get hungry, head to Stoby’s Restaurant for the famous cheese dip or to Mike’s Place for New Orleans-inspired seafood. Zeteo Coffee is a popular local coffee shop. And don’t forget about food trucks like Rubis Mexican Food.
Hilton Garden Inn Conway is the best place to stay in town, with large rooms featuring microwaves, refrigerators, and coffee makers. The hotel also has a restaurant, fitness center, and an indoor pool.
The former oil boom town of El Dorado opened the Murphy Arts District in 2017, investing over $100 million dollars to attract visitors with music festivals like Music Fest and other live entertainment. The three-day event in October has an eclectic lineup spanning all genres.
The South Arkansas Arboretum is one of the area’s protected areas since 1960, spread across 12 acres. Here you can find plants native to the coastal plain as well as azaleas and camellias.
Minute Man Hamburgers is one of the few remaining locations of a fast food chain founded in Little Rock in 1948. JJ’s BBQ offers Arkansas style barbecue, including pork and turkey. You’ll find a little bit of everything at Fayrays, including Italian and American fare.
The Haywood El Dorado is the best place to stay, with king or queen beds and in-room coffee makers.
Heber Springs was founded as a resort town and remains a popular getaway. Set around a 31,500-acre, it’s an outdoor oasis with fishing, hiking, and searching for waterfalls. The Cleburne County Historical Society is a good place to start your visit.
Most travelers opt for cabins but the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Heber Springs is another option. Another unique is Stoneflower, a design by Fay Jones. Built in 1965, the architectural gem has a queen bed, natural stone walls, and large windows overlooking the forest.
Located in the Arkansas Delta, Helena is most associated with music, especially for its annual King Biscuit Blues Festival. It gets its name from the radio show King Biscuit Time, which started in 1941 and went on to influence artists like B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Musicians like blues guitarist CeDell Davis and Grammy award-winning blues vocalist Willie “Big Eyes” Smith come from Helena.
Helena doesn’t have many hotels to speak of. Edwardian Inn is a bed and breakfast full of charm as well as an in-house restaurant. Otherwise, your best bet is rentals on sites like Airbnb. Clarksdale isn’t too far away, either.
In the town of Hope, everything ties back to Clinton. Start at the Hope Visitors Center and Museum, set in a 1912 railroad depot, with exhibits on the town’s history and its native son. At the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, tour the home where Clinton lived with his grandparents and mother.
Chow down at Big Mac’s BBQ, known for its chopped pork and okra. Don’t miss the fried green beans and burgers at Tailgater’s Burger Company. And in neighboring Washington, Williams Tavern Restaurant was built in 1832 and has classic Southern food.
Spend a night or two at Holiday Inn Express, a budget-friendly stay in town.
Home to Arkansas State University, Jonesboro has a little bit of everything, including the great outdoors and arts and culture. Start on the school campus at the Bradbury Art Museum, known for its collection of contemporary works.
Crowley’s Ridge State Park is set around a unique geological feature and has facilities created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Enjoy a craft beer at Native Brew Works, a micro-brewery private club in an otherwise dry county.
Intersect311 Apart-Hotel Jonesboro is the best place to stay in town, with cozy rooms with fully equipped kitchens.
Walnut Ridge has a number of landmarks related to The Beatles, who stopped here in between tour dates. Visit the Beatles Park and Guitar Walk, two of the music attractions. The Wings of Honor Museum is another highlight, focusing on World War II and military history.
Polar Freeze is an old-school eatery with pit barbecue, burgers, and classic milkshakes and malts. Moni’s Grill has breakfast and sandwiches.
The best place to stay is Hotel Rhea, built in 1904 but rebuilt after a fire. The hotel, run by university students, is set inside the former drugstore with modern conveniences in the four rooms.
Charming Wilson is well worth a detour as new restaurants and shops continue to open. This includes an outpost of White’s Mercantile, owned by Hank Williams‘ granddaughter. The Hampson Archaeological Museum is another must-see, interpreting the early Indigenous site with educational panels and preserved pottery.
Chow down on the Blue Plate Special at the famed Wilson Cafe, with its artfully prepared Southern dishes. The Hog Pen in nearby Osceola is another favorite, for its smoked ribs and barbecue sides.
The Louis Hotel is under construction, so in the meantime, Airbnb rentals are your best bet.